European soft drinks industry commits to reduce sugar content in beverages by 10% before end of 2025

EUROPE – Soft drink beverages are a favorite for many. Their sweet taste is irresistible, making many consumers to crave for more once their first bottle is complete. 

These sweet beverages however come with the added risk of exposing consumers to lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes.  

Numerous studies have shown that regular consumption of soft drinks is associated with type 2 diabetes in both adults and children.  

In the UK where per capita consumption of soft drink beverages is estimated to be 107 liters, a majority of adults and a significant proportion of children are considered either overweight or obese.  

According to recent data from UK’s National Health Service, the majority of adults were overweight or obese; 67% of men and 60% of women. This included 26% of men and 29% of women who were obese. 

This situation is replicated in other European states with a study by the National Library of Medicine revealing that over half of the population in 20 European countries is overweight.  

UK fearing a health pandemic associated with obesity and diabetes recently commissioned a national food industry review that has since recommended additional taxes on added sugar and salt in foods.  

Kerry notes that that the number continues to grow, with around 50 countries or jurisdictions having implemented taxes on sugary drinks as a way to discourage consumption.  

Among the latest places to turn to taxation as a means of encouraging healthy habits and fighting obesity-related illness are Spain and Poland, which introduced new sugar taxes in January of 2021. 

To help build healthier communities in Europe, the European Soft Drink Association (UNESDA) has been championing efforts to reduce sugar levels in carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) for more than 2 decades now. 

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The association  further notes that the European sugar industry has been working to offer smaller package sizes to enable consumers to manage their consumption of soft drinks and support healthier diets.   

With diabetes and obesity levels still on the rise, the European Sugar Industry is stepping up its healthy campaigns by lowering sugar content levels further and reducing marketing to children who are most vulnerable. 

“We are now taking a step forward and are committing to reducing the average content of added sugars in our beverages by another 10% from 2019-2025,” UNESDA said in a statement. 

“This will represent an overall reduction of 33% in average added sugars in the past two decades.” 

Since 2006, the European Sugar Industry has pledged not to advertise any soft drinks to children under 12 on television and on the radio, in print and online, including social media and on company-owned websites. 

To further protect children from exposure to sugary drinks, the industry now commits not to market or advertise any soft drinks to children across all media.  

“We are raising the minimum age limit to 13 years old and lowering the audience threshold to 30% so that in practice fewer young children will be directly exposed to advertising for any of its soft drinks,” UNESDA said. 

The association has further committed that its members will not sell selling nor advertising any soft drinks in EU primary schools. 

Additionally, only no- and low-calorie soft drinks will be available for sale in EU secondary schools and only in non-branded vending machines, without logos or commercial communications. 

“Europe’s soft drinks industry wants to continue to help Europeans manage their intake of added sugars from soft drinks and enable moderate consumption,” says UNESDA. 

“We are committed to making the healthier choice the easy choice for consumers, as part of our contribution to the European Commission’s objective of a healthier and more sustainable food system.” 

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